I would not have expected any of this heading into the last weekend. Here’s what I think here-there-everywhere.
PADRES…Sources tell me owner Peter Seidler imposed his will on GM-AJ Preller, and that the hiring of an ‘experienced’ manager was the directive from the owner. No more young inexperienced bench bosses. Bob Melvin comes with credibility. The job he did in 11-years in Oakland, in an impossible situation, was an accomplishment. Working for a volatile Billy Beane, working with significant payroll issues, and in an awful stadium, he won divisional titles, got to the playoff and was voted Manager of the Year 3-tines. In Arizona, he inherited a post-World Series team as Randy Johnson and Luis Gozalez retired. In Seattle, their 116-win season was long ago, and Ichuro Suzuki was about to retire. He had 3-90 win seasons in his career, and a following in which other baseball teams and players made respectful comments. Preller may have hit a home run here. A veteran manager, with some cachet in clubhouses, where he spent 32-years as a player-coach then manager, means he has seen everything a job like this can present. Take his leadership, mix it with some Padres star players, and a starting pitching staff that should be healthy by spring training, and maybe Melvin takes this team to what it should have been a year ago…a 90-win summer. And maybe Preller’s home run hire saves his own GMs job.
CHARGERS…The professor beat the student. Old dog beats young pup. Mad scientist beats smart guy. Don’t pay attention to the score, this game was one sided for most of the day at So Fi Stadium. Bill Belichick is now (24-4) in games vs rookie coaches. The win would not have surpassed last year’s (45-0) thrashing of the Chargers, but it could have been more lopsided, considering the Patriots kept taking penalties that wiped out big plays, including one that voided a 27-yard TD run. Both young QBs struggled. Mac Jones was (2-for-13) at one point in the middle of the game, but once the Pats started running the ball, Jones found himself. Justin Herbert was under alot of pressure, took sacks, hits, was out of sync again, and did not get alot of help from some of his star players. At one point he was (10-20) in the game. The Chargers defense played with grit upfront, though there was not alot of QB-pressure, but they did stop drives at the 1-6-30. It took four Nick Folk field goals to give the Pats the cushion they needed. Brandon Staley’s team is not sneaking up on anyone any longer. Guys like Belichick study film late into the night and have found ways to slow down all the things Herbert does. The Bolts are (4-3) as they head to Philadelphia next week. The schedule will get easier now, but questions remain will, the run defense get better and will the offense get explosive again.
AZTECS….Never did I think I’d be talking about the Aztecs and worrying about the things that used to make them great, the run game and the defense. It was substandard quarterbacking that got the Aztecs beaten in the past, but it was how Fresno State beat up the SDSU defense, run and throw, and how the Bulldogs front shoved around the Aztecs offensive front and clamped down the run game. San Jose State did it two weeks ago, Air Force caused them problems last week, and Fresno hit them in the head with the Oil Can Trophy enroute to a win. Goodbye unbeaten season and top 25-ranking. And hello Nevada’s big time QB-Carson Strong, and Boise State’s history, those teams still on the schedule. San Diego State looked really fatigued in the opening half, falling behind, and really never catching up. Brady Hoke has to like both his quarterbacks, Lucas Johnson’s 280-all purpose yard night and the brief appearance of Will Haskell, the freshman gem of a quarterback. The other issues will likely work themselves out but the schedule still has some huge landmines they have to deal with.